Finding websites with stock photos that are actually free sucks. Add in quality and the challenge gets even harder.
Royalty free is a type of license used by stock photography agencies to sell stock images. Once you have purchased the license with a flat, one-time fee, you are granted a determined set of rights to use the image in multiple ways.
Fro example, you could use an image in a print ad campaign, social media post, on your website, and web banner ads, without having to pay each time you used the image.
The reason for this is simple. When you are working with stock photos, you are acquiring the right to use the photo in a certain way. You do not, however acquire the property of the photo itself.
As a web designer, you need to use quality images so you look like you actually know what you’re doing.
Well, sort of.
In all seriousness, images are a heavily used marketing tool, and for good reason.
Whether you are offering a service or selling a product, images help illustrate your message.
A high resolution image can display your product or service at its height of potential.
Images can be used to educate your audience. A high caliber image can clarify an issue without any words needed. Remember, as a web designer, you want to be a problem solver for a user.
Free stock photos are a great way to ensure quality, with out paying a lot to get your message across.
Here is a list of our top 17 favorite sites for use for quality free stock photos.
Unsplash is our personal favorite for free high resolution, and high quality stock photos.
They release 10 new photos, every ten days and have over 25,000 contributing photographers.
It generates an estimated 1 billion photo impressions a month.
Every photo published on Unsplash is licensed under Creative Commons Zero, which means users may copy, modify, distribute, and use the images without permissions or attribution.
Best For? Anything and everything
This is another website that provides photos covered under the Creative Commons Zero license.
All of the high resolution images are taken by photographer, Ryan McGuire.
Some of these pictures are the things of which nightmares are made.
If you are looking for quirky, unique images, (or want to scare the shit our of a small child) this is the site for you.
New pictures are added weekly.
Best For? Quirky, not your average photos
Small, but mighty.
The site contains visually pleasing free stock photos, taken by Dave Meier and other photographers.
Their saying; “Free images to use however you like” pretty much sums up how the website works.
They also offer premium collections available for purchasing.
Free? Yes, but there is a premium option available.
Best For? Objects and scenic locations.
Simply, enter your email and Death to the Stock Photo will send you a pack of 10 photos within a certain category.
The theme range from a simple object such as “fruit”, to a conceptual idea like “wild imagination.”
Free? Yes, but there is a premium option for either $15 per month or $145 per year. And they give scholarships for nonprofits and social enterprises.
Best For? Inspiration haven for social media, blogs, and mockups
Pixabay has over 780,000 free photos, art illustrations, and vectors on their website.
You can use any image with attribution in printed and digital form, even for commercial applications.
The site is crisp and organized. The search bar lets you select specific factors such as color, minimum dimensions, orientation, and media type.
Best For? Vector graphics, illustrations, videos, ad photos covering a wide range of topics
Kaboom can be your go to for fashion, food, landscapes, abstract, and more.
The creative brains behind this web site is a web designer from Poland, Karolina.
She requests that you include photo credit with a link back to the site when possible.
Free? Yes, they even add a color palette with free graphics for download for every photo
Best For? Extremely wide variety of topics
If you don’t know who designer and photographer Jay Mantri is, we recommend you look him up.
“free pics. do anything (CCO). make magic”
His site has tons of professional images, that cover a wide range of themes.
The best part, 7 new images are added every Thursday.
Best For? Scenic images
Everyone likes a good black and white photo.
When vintage is the look you need, go to New Old Stock.
The images are from the public archive via Flickr Commons, and they are free of any known copyright restrictions.
Best For? Vintage projects, retro web designs
IM Free is where you can find a collection of photos, plus other web design resources, free for commercial use.
IM Free aims to target web designers and agencies specifically with their free photos.
Free? Yes, for commercial use
Best For? Their nature and landscape collections have almost 3500 images
This site is the perfect example of how to use criticism, and turn it into something positive.
Phtographer and designer, Vikto Janacek, started Picjumbo in 2013 as a result of his work being rejected by other stock photo sites.
Now, the site has blossomed into a thorough collection of free photos for personal and commercial use.
New images are added daily.
Free? Yes, but there are premium packages available for bloggers, designers, and agencies
Best For? Wide variety of categories such as architecture, fashion, transportation, and people
Tired of looking at your cousins shitty food pictures on Instagram?
FoodiesFeed is your answer.
For those of you who write about food, or sell food products, or maybe just love food, FoodiesFeed is a dream come true.
FoodiesFeed has thousands of free, high resolution food images for you to choose from.
Disclosure: The site may induce food cravings.
Free? Yes, but there are premium options to choose from that cost anywhere from $39-$199.
Best For? Food bloggers and food-related websites
The creator of this site, Nic, has sadly passed away.
His photos tell his story, and were released under the creative commons license public domain dedication.
Best For? Quality landscape images
Life of Pix is managed by Leeroy Advertising Agency and its talented photographers.
New photos are added weekly, all under public domain.
If you need videos, check out Life of Pix’s counterpart, Life of Vids.
There you can find free videos, looks, and clips.
Again, there are no copyright restrictions to the content.
Best For? Nature, everyday life, landscape
Skitterphoto is the result of three skilled photographers in Groningen, The Netherlands.
You’ll find a stunning collection of vivid and quality images.
The site has 15 categories ranging from industry to animals to travel, but check out the unique music category.
Best For? Animals, nature, people
MMT Stock is where you can search through collection after collection of high resolution photos, all thanks to Jeffrey Betts.
MMT Stock covers a wide range of topics, from “yellow flowers”, “green leaves”, to ideas such as “getting work done” and “focused.”
Really, MMT Stock features everyday photos that can be used on an extremely wide range of web design projects or mockups.
Best For? Everyday life, website mockups
“Not your typical crappy stock photo site.”
One of the best parts of Stocksnap is their search feature, that makes it simple and easy to browse through thousands of images.
Hundreds, yes hundreds, of quality photos are added daily, and no attribution is required.
Best For? Objects, nature, wildlife
Ran by Italian photographer, Daniel Nanescu, SplitShire, has plenty of amazing free photos to choose from.
Nanescu claims the photos are “made with love” and this definitely shows.
SplitShire offers unique, high resolution photographs many times feature awesome lighting or grunge textures.
Best For? Bloggers, everyday life, grunge photos, unique lighting